Just like a rash of neighborhood robberies reminds us to double check that our doors are locked, Ref “Reformer” Rodriguez’s campaign to take the school board seat away from experienced educator Bennett Kayser reminds us how vulnerable we are.
One recent alarm came in the form of an invitation to a fundraiser at the home of Frank Baxter—supporter of charters since they were a twinkle in his eye, in the 1990s, and now co-chairman of the board of the Alliance charter management organization.
The Special Guest was none other than Marshall Tuck, the recently defeated candidate for California Superintendent.
Defeat is no obstacle for someone like Tuck. Sure, in addition to losing his election, he was left off the “really good list of ed reform leaders in LA :),” which LA School Report publisher Jamie Alter Lynton sent to her husband, Sony chief Michael Lynton. (Readers can see the whole list in the treasure trove of leaked Sony emails exposed on WikiLeaks.)
So, at the Ref Rodriguez fundraiser, Marshall Tuck was the Special Guest.
So where is the labor brotherhood and sisterhood as we fight to protect and restore our schools? As Bennett Kayser wages the campaign fight for his life?
The suggested donations were $500-$1100 per person. Why stop at $1100? I thought the LA City Ethics Commission in January raised the campaign donation limit to $1300. Maybe supporters are purposely reserving $200 because it’s just enough for a trip to Walmart for campaign supplies—valet parking included. That’s what Students For Education Reform disclosed spending on April 13, working independently to defeat Bennett Kayser.
Humor aside, it turns out $1,100 is the donation limit, and $200 in receipts is not even a drop in the bucket to Walmart, of course. The billionaire retailer is waging a war on labor unions and the quickest route is through public schools.
No one has stood up more consistently for the school district's union partners than Bennett Kayser. So where is the brotherhood and sisterhood as we fight to protect and restore our schools? As Bennett Kayser wages the campaign fight for his life?
According to folks close to Kayser's campaign, SEIU has stepped in. This is surprising to education activists who have been unnerved by SEIU's advocacy for former superintendent Deasy and other privateers. Let's hope they increase their support tremendously—immediately.
But where are the teachers, for whom Bennett Kayser—a former classroom teacher—has been a steadfast supporter? While UTLA strongly backed Bennett Kayser in the primary campaign, their organization is invisible as we near the finish line.
Bennett Kayser is being outspent by charters 9:1. But if every teacher who lives in Board District 5 brings in two votes, Kayser will win and, once again, people will win over corporate power. UTLA can provide the kind of support that can make a monumental difference. They need to do it today.
The alarm is sounding for Bennett Kayser’s campaign.
Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact 323.535.9930 and donations can be made here. Every single thing helps.